Electric Guitar Recording Tips

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The beauty of the playback sound relies greatly on the recording. Here are tips on recording your electric guitar performance.

This technique is adapted from Fett of The Performing Songwriter. Aside from a direct sound recording input in the other room of a studio, multiple mics can be used on the amp to capture sounds from different angles, just like in acoustic guitar recording. You may experiment on different ways that may even sound weird as a normal recording concept but they’re definitely worth a try. You just might be able to get that elusive sound you’ve been trying to achieve for years, or a totally new sound that you never could have imagined.

To achieve a somewhat muddy, grunge-like sound on an electric rhythm guitar track, after adjusting the correct amp tones, you could place a mic directly in front of your guitar to record the attack of the pick while strummed and combine the sound with the amp recording in the next room. Even though the solid-bodied electric guitar put out very little sound, you can capture plenty of rhythmic attack from your pick hitting the strings, and add as much (or as little) as you need in the mix.

This technique can also be used to capture multiple electric guitar sounds from the same performance by splitting the signal coming from the guitar’s output jack. Send one half to the amp and the other half directly onto a track, with no effects or amplification. The completely naked sound of that second track may or may not be useful on its own, but i can be used after the fact for just about anything, such as putting it through a stomp box or other effects device without worrying about coloration from the amp.

One of the best places to send a clean electric track is back out to a miked guitar amp, and then bring the amp’s recorded signal back onto a different track. This technique is called “re-amping” and permits you to dial in any kind of amplified electric sound you need in the mix — even long after the original tracks have been laid down. This can particularly be useful for live recordings whose electric guitar tracks just weren’t recorded well for one reason or another. Re-amping to the rescue!

Just as multiple mics on the same guitar amp will give you a bigger sound, so will the same guitar recorded through multiple amps at the same time. As with recording acoustic guitars, the more dissimilar the two amps are, the fuller sound you’ll get. Try recording a lead guitar part at the same time through a Vox AC30 for high-end bite, and a Fender Bassman for low-end beef. Your resulting sound will be larger than life, especially if you use multiple mics on each amp, or close and distant mics at the same time.

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